Have you seen the ingredients of a typical protein bar? Pretty scary stuff I know. Sometimes portable and convenient foods are necessary. Whether it’s a pre or post workout snack, food for the road, or simply a mid-afternoon snack to get you to dinner, having a healthy and portable snack can prevent one from making a trip through the drive through. Back in the day I would have eaten one of these Cliff bars. Can we talk about the ingredients for a sec? Teaching 7th grade nutrition means that I need a keep it simple approach to reading labels. Here is what I teach:
Read the ingredients list FIRST-do you recognize all the ingredients? Can you pronounce them? How many ingredients are there? Are there ingredients that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food? Are there any red flag ingredients like hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial or “natural” flavors, or artificial food dyes?
Look at the nutrition facts SECOND- is there any protein? Does it contain fat/cholesterol, and if so is it “good” fat/cholesterol (did it come from a whole food like nuts or avocado) or is it “bad” fat/cholesterol (did it come from a processed food (does it contain industrial seed oil like canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, cottonseed, etc.)? How much sugar is there? Subtract the grams of fiber from the grams of carbohydrate to get the net carbs. Then divide the net carbs by 4 to get the number of teaspoons of sugar. (Click HERE to read more on calculating the amount of sugar in a product.) I don’t care about calories because I don’t count calories. But if you care, then look. How much sodium is there and does the sodium come from a natural food (like salted almond butter) or does it come from highly processing (think Raman noodles)?
Look at the claims on the box LAST-do you see any of these labels:
If so then it’s another pro for the list but not the only reason to buy or eat the food. I tell my students that just because something is organic doesn’t make it good for you. They make organic cookies and candy you know 🙂
I make a batch of these protein bars, individually wrap them, and keep them in the freezer. They are perfect for the times when I am only a little hungry but need to eat something. Like when I am going to Crossfit on the weekends. I am the type of person that doesn’t eat before work outs. I have a travel mug of coffee on my way to the box, work out, then eat breakfast when I get to school during the week. On the weekends, I have coffee and one of these protein bars on the way to the box. These are just enough protein, carbs, and fat to fuel me for the WOD (workout of day). Then I eat a whole food breakfast when I get home.
- 4 cups almonds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup protein powder
- 1 cup almond butter
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 egg whites, beaten
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 cup chocolate chip
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F
- Place almonds through ginger in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are coarsely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the coconut oil with the vanilla extract and honey.
- Beat 2 eggs whites until frothy.
- Pour coconut oil mixture and beaten egg whites into nut mixture; mix thoroughly.
- Press mixture firmly into a 9x11 baking pan and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the pan is cooling, melt chocolate and 1 tbsp coconut oil over low heat using same small saucepan.
- Once mixture is cooled, pour the melted chocolate on top in an even layer, sprinkle with shredded coconut & freeze until hardened.
- Cut into squares & wrap individually with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store in freezer.
- I cut mine into 2"x2" squares and got abut 15 bars.
- calories: 370
- carbs: 19g
- fat: 31g
- sodium: 19mg
- sugar: 10g